Understand ego to understand others - and yourself
"I want to shake them and say, get over yourself. There are people in the world who have bigger problems" - Dave the runner
I run on my own. I am my own psychologist, nutritionist, doctor, best friend and everyone else that we rely on in our day-to-day lives. I’ve become incredibly self-sufficient and self-reliant, which is why coming home has been such an eye-opener. My instinct has been to grab everybody by their collars and try to slap some sense into them. I want to shake them and say, “Get over yourself. There are people in the world who have bigger problems.”
And at a certain level, I do believe it’s true. I believe that someone “surviving” a lost cell phone episode is not experiencing the same trauma as someone who is trying to survive a civil or genocidal war.
But – we also only know what we know. And if the worst we’ve known is a lost cell phone, then it is by definition the worst experience of one’s life.
An inner battle between ego and understanding
So, when I sit here, back home, listening to the troubles of some of my family, I’m battling a contest between my ego – the part of me that says, “I’ve been running in -27°C temperatures, living out of a pram, so toughen up” – and understanding. Understanding that a) I’ve chosen to run in those conditions; b) different personalities respond to different stresses differently; and c) we only know what we know.
These are things that I have to take a step back and remember, every time I find myself talking to my family about their lives. And to be honest, I never knew I had that much of an ego, until this short trip home. I see how it causes tension when I don’t control it. It’s very easy to snap at someone. It’s very easy to justify “tough love” as a solution.
Perhaps “tough love” is a solution when it’s given from a point of understanding, but I’ve found that for me personally, ego stops me from listening to a problem. Ego, instead, brings the discussion back to me and my problems.
And yet, on the other hand: cell phones and civil wars.
It’s been interesting trying to find the right balance, and I’ve definitely not helped the situation at times. Unfortunately, I don’t always see ego as something necessarily bad. Some of the most dominant sports personalities and innovators have had huge egos. If they didn’t have that self-absorption, they possibly would not have achieved as much. And this causes even more introspection on my part.
The only thing that I do know, right now, is that whatever the basis of a relationship between people, understanding ego is important to understanding others, as well as oneself. Solve this little conundrum, and I hope that my relationships with people, in whatever form they might take, will improve.
Dave the runner